I received this question from a woman who is married to a man who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder and who also is a sex addict. Here is her question:
Does anyone have any experience with bipolar and sex addiction? My husband has been diagnosed with bipolar, though he is now shifting is focus to Attention Deficit Disorder, even though his psychiatrist said she thinks he is “more bipolar than ADD”. His form of SA is addiction to pornography. I don’t think he has engaged in any other activities. Also, he had much childhood trauma, so we deal with that. I feel like I bounce between these issues, yet they are related. I am in the beginning stages of a divorce from him, yet I am still so very emotional, sad that the man I married seems to be gone. Also, I need to figure out how to take care of my kids, helping them heal and keeping them stable while allowing them some time with their dad. I am going for full physical custody, although I do not know if I will get it, and I am not sure my husband fully understands what that will mean for him. When he does, I am afraid of how he will react.
Anyway, any wisdom from anyone who has experiences with these issues would be greatly appreciated.
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Here is some information on Bipolar Disorder:
Mine had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder (not bipolar 1 or 2, more like a “spectrum” understanding of bipolar) a couple years before I discovered who he really was and what he’d been doing. He has family of origin issues and anxiety issues – just a big rat’s nest of dysfunction. At some point I realized I would never understand exactly what was going on, since he’s such a talented and committed manipulator and the therapists were all quacks. Understanding how bipolar disorder affects his behavior, versus whatever other issues he has, would require a) advanced knowledge of neurology/psychology, and b) honest disclosure from him about his experiences and feelings. The former would require a huge investment from me (with a terrible ROI), and the latter was never going to happen (and I had no way of verifying it even if it did). So I cut my losses and focused on the things I can control: getting out and rebuilding my life.
Also, I was diagnosed with bipolar 2 over a decade ago. I manage it mostly with medication. I tried to go off medication a few times and every time, after about six months, I could tell my mood phases were problematic and went back on the meds. This is how a well-intentioned person deals with a mood disorder. My husband, despite taking medication that fixed his mood, was still engaging in his awful behavior. He has a character disorder (see the work of Dr. George Simon). Treating a co-occurring mood disorder will not fix that.
I agree with AB’s post. As a partner with bipolar and comorbid ADHD (this is common), I can tell you that anyone who blames their abusive behaviors on having a mood disorder is just an abusive person looking for an excuse; they want a way to silence their victims and feel above reproach. Who you are, your character, your values; these things never change no matter what mood you are in. I am not my illness and neither is he. It’s time for him to “man up” and start taking responsibility.